Friday, September 05, 2008

Gender Stereotypes and Gender Equality

Earlier this week, I received a security advisory email from my school's administration regarding an alleged on-campus molestation incident. The victim is a student from my school and the incident happened on shuttle bus travelling within my school campus. The email also gave a brief description of the alleged molester's physical characteristics and where this alleged molester headed towards after alighting from the shuttle bus. Advice on how to prevent oneself from such incidents was also included in the email, as well as an appeal for eyewitnesses.

Okay now, let me ask you all a question; how many of you all after reading the above had the mental impression that the victim is female while the molester was male? In fact, how many of you all even realised that the respective gender of the victim and the molester were not mentioned?

Well, the original email from my school's administration also did not explicitly mentioned the victim's gender or that of the alleged molester and yet I perhaps automatically had the mental conception that the victim was female while the alleged molester is male. It was only after a careful re-reading of the email that I realised the non-mention of genders and my own mental preconception about the victim's and alleged molester's gender.

Although I cannot be certain, I suppose the author of the security advisory email did not see a need to specifically mentioned the victim's gender or that of the alleged molester because he assumed that people will know automatically that the victim is female while the alleged molester would be male. And I am guessing that he based this assumption of his on the common stereotype of men being the sexual predators while women are the sexual prey.

Indeed, although I do not have the statistics to back it up, it does seem to be a prevalent notion that while men are the perpetrators of sexual crimes, women are the victims of such crimes.

I mean, while examining Section 375 of the local Penal Code due to my support of amending it to criminalise marital rape, I realised that, interestingly and strangely enough, rape is an offense which can only be committed by men.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I suppose what I am trying to say is that while it is true that there exists gender stereotypes, laws and policies that discriminate against women while benefitting men, there are also gender stereotypes, laws and policies which discriminate against men. Here, I refer to more than just stereotypes, laws and policies which typecast men as lustful sexual predators and women as lust-free sexual prey (this typecasting, in my opinion, demeans women as much as men).

The feminists amongst you all may perhaps start arguing that there exists more discrimination against women than against men and that certain laws/policies which may perhaps disadvantage men were set up to protect women.

My reply would be that while it may be true that women are more discriminated against than men, this still does not negate the fact that there are certain areas in which men are discriminated against while benefitting women. Also, while I understand the need to enact laws to protect women, this should not come at the expense of men.

In the end, my vision of gender equality is that not only should women be equal to men, men should also be equal to women. There should not be areas in which "the men don't get it". Of course, while perfect equality may be impossible, "as equal as possible" or equity should be the target.


Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that the fishy absense of pronouns actually could mean something else. Perhaps both the victim and the molester were of the same sex.


LCC said...

To Anonymous (11:55pm),

Well, I have thought about that possibility but if indeed the victim and the alleged molester were of the same gender, perhaps the latter's gender can still be revealed?

I mean, no use giving people a brief physical description of the alleged molester without revealing the gender, right?

chillycraps said...

aha, i was thinking about that point and nice you also write about it.

it could be, the administration has gotten sensitive to gender issues?

Post a Comment